This afternoon totally made up for yesterday's mess. First of all, I sort of figured a way out of my scheduling nightmare (though I'll have to wait til Monday to make it official since no one here seems to think it necessary to hold regular office hours). The problem is that I was somehow signed up for about 24 hours worth of classes. Hmmmm, not this little Texan. I'm going to switch to a 6-hour independent language study class for the remainder of the art program, and then join a 20-hour group class for the last four weeks of my stay in St. Petersburg.
After clearing up that mess, I headed to the Hermitage for today's class - French Art of the late 19th and early 20th century. I was sort of expecting it to be a bit tiresome, seeing as how that's not my favorite period of art history. But it was fantastic, on a number of levels. First, we spent two hours up in the painting galleries with Misha, one of the curators for French art. It's funny to hear someone say, "We only have 6 of van Gogh's paintings." That seems like a lot to me. Of course, they have 15 Gaugains of display and even more by Matisse. It was really neat walking through with someone who knew the different phases that each artist went through and how they influenced one another. We took a break for lunch (yay for beef stroganoff), then Misha took us down into the print storage facility to look at a bunch of rare lithographs and other prints from the same period. WOW! We spent a good two and half hours down there. Interestingly enough, while the Hermitage has a great Impressionist collection, they have no paintings by Eduoard Manet - they only have a bunch of prints, all of which we got to see. He showed us the original prints Manet made to illustrate Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, as well as art books by Matisse and other famous artists. I could have spent much more time in there, but I think we may have zapped Misha of all energy.
I'm so glad I skipped my language class today to come to what I thought would be another routine day in the museum. But suprises are everywhere!
Tomorrow we're heading to Novgorod for the day. It should be a nice little daytrip.
I'm in the process of loading pictures on flickr right this minute, so check that out too.